Open Letter to ‘The Academy’

Dearest Oscar,

How have you been? It has been a long time, I mean a long time, since we last spoke but as I approach my last gasps, urgency is of the utmost importance so I’ll press on.

My message to you today is a warning. A warning to take extra care in whom you award yourself to, or offer yourself up like low-hanging fruit, for that matter. Precious as we both know that you are, I implore you to take extra caution in your decision-making this year or you might very well be the eraser that forever wipes me away. I know you’ll argue that I can’t be completely erased but you are wrong, so be careful.

As you know, films over that last number of years have taken liberties with me, and I’ve been sad to witness you reward the act. For example, as recently as last year you gave yourself completely to the cliché-ridden and factually hilarious Argo which to this day feels as if your golden hands are gripped around the soft tissue of my overworked lungs, slowly squeezing me into the eternal abyss. Release(!) I tell you!

Do you remember, wait, I’m sure you do, how you blind-sided me when you fell for Sandra Bullock in The Blind Side years ago? I loved her performance as much as you, but Congress tells the truth more than that film, and yet you rained your golden adoration over it, and her, with less abandon than your Nero himself. Why dear friend? You are literally smothering me into oblivion.

Aren’t you tired of these true, real-life stories being tinkered away from fact and fully into fiction by Hollywood executives? The weight of ‘based on a true story’ to audiences is as heavy as an anvil since it gives meaning to what is presented on-screen. The emotional punch of that sentence is knowingly powerful but its misuse is literally killing me. I beg you to stop my bleeding and do your part and stop rewarding films that mercilessly rip me apart.

This leads me to one film in particular.  I think you know which one I mean but, to clarify, it isn’t Captain Phillips because we both know it was emotionally hollow and not worthy of you – critics be damned. The film to which I refer is Gravity which I realize involves your dear ‘wool-over-your eyes’ friend Sandra.

Allow me to explain. I realize that this film does not have me at its storytelling core, but this is a different kind of misuse which, if you reward it next spring, will likely asphyxiate me into the long night. The fictional story, and the film itself, is truly wonderful but like George Clooney‘s character, it needlessly floats away from scientific fact. WHY?!?!? Unlike every single sentence penned by the late – and great – David Foster Wallace, there is a significant lack of meticulous detail, camera-work aside.

Gravity isn’t some crazy good sci-fi film like Blade Runner, Star Wars or 2001: A Space Odyssey, where suspended disbelief is needed and I am rightfully irrelevant. As my defender and new personal hero Neil DeGrasse noted, Alfonso Cuarón’s film is ‘impressive’ but it rips away key pieces of me with utter disregard. I just wish I knew why. It didn’t have be this way.

So I beg you, don’t Crash this year or you truly bury my broke back self deep into a mountain of regret. As always, I wish you wisdom and health.

Sincerely yours,

P.S. You looked absolutely terrific last year! So regal, so beautiful. Shine on dear friend.


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